Al-Sisi Willing to Work with Japan for Sudan Cease-fire

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi wants to work with Japan to bring about a cease-fire in neighboring conflict-ridden Sudan but said his nation would not intervene. 

Sisi made the comments in an exclusive 70-minute interview with The Asahi Shimbun here on April 29. It is rare for the Egyptian president to meet with foreign media in Egypt.

The interview took place ahead of a meeting between Sisi and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Egypt was the first stop on Kishida’s four-nation tour of Africa.

Regarding the fighting between warring factions in Sudan, Sisi said, “Many Sudanese are fleeing to Egypt and we are facing difficulties.”

Pointing to the fact that Japan is hosting this year’s Group of Seven summit, Sisi said he wanted to cooperate in working for a cease-fire in Sudan as well as a transition to a civilian government.

He said that Egypt had already taken in between 8 million and 9 million refugees not only from Sudan, but other war-torn nations, including Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Noting the global economic difficulties brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sisi said, “If we were to accept even more Sudanese, Egypt will definitely feel the effects.”

Fighting broke out from April 15 between the Sudan military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia group that also receives backing from the Sudan government.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said on April 29 that there were more than 50,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled the fighting to Egypt, Chad and other neighboring nations.

An Egyptian foreign ministry official said that about 14,000 Sudanese refugees had entered Egypt by April 27.

“We will provide support for dialogue among the Sudanese in order to end the fighting, establish a temporary civilian government and hold elections,” Sisi said. “Since Japan is a G-7 member, our efforts should be toward those goals.”

Because Sudan was jointly controlled by Britain and Egypt before becoming independent, there had been speculation that Egypt might intervene as the fighting intensified.

But Sisi said, “We will not interfere in the domestic politics of other nations because we do not want to further complicate the situation.”

He also indicated that Egypt would continue to take a neutral stance regarding the fighting between Russia and Ukraine, adding that it would be important to pursue a peaceful solution there.

He said Egypt and many other developing nations had been affected economically by the Russian invasion through a food crisis and surging consumer prices.

Sisi also expressed strong interest in strengthening cooperation with Japan and said he wanted Japanese companies to become involved in the economic zone along the Suez Canal.

After the April 30 meeting between Kishida and Sisi, a joint news conference was held in which Kishida said he informed the Egyptian president of Japan’s willingness to provide humanitarian support to Sudanese refugees fleeing to neighboring nations.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Question: What effects to this region are arising because of the fighting in neighboring Sudan between the military and the RSF?

Sisi: The entire region could be affected. We are making our best effort to bring about discussions between the military and the RSF. We also cannot make the issue even more complicated, so we are being careful about not interfering in their domestic matters. Our efforts are for the creation of a transitional government until elections can be held and civilian government inaugurated.

Q: What form of support are you looking for from the international community?

Sisi: We hope for support that will stabilize Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan. Once the situation stabilizes, those who fled their nations will return (home). I want to hold a frank exchange of views with Prime Minister Kishida to confirm what we can do.

Q: What are your concerns about more refugees from Sudan?

Sisi: There are already millions of Sudanese in Egypt, but we refer to them not as refugees but guests. There are between 8 million and 9 million guests from Libya, Syria, Yemen and other African nations. Amid the economic difficulties stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Sudanese have fled so Egypt is also facing problems. We are already experiencing high inflation and the prices of daily necessities are surging.

Q: What are your views about the dramatic changes occurring in the Middle East, such as the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Sisi: There has been more than 10 years of instability in this region and many people have suffered as a result. We have come to believe that the only appropriate option for our foreign policy is an alleviation of tension and reconciliation. Egyptian diplomacy does not meddle in the domestic politics of other nations, but has consistently been one of strategic patience to wait for an improvement in the situation.

Q: How do you view the efforts by China to mediate the normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Sisi: I believe any good intention to find a resolution to the various issues of the world is a good thing. We welcome such contributions from China, Japan and the United States. We are also hoping for an early resolution of the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine so peace can return. We will support any nation that can contribute to that resolution.

Q: Why are so many nations in the so-called Global South, including Egypt, taking a neutral stance toward the invasion of Ukraine?

Sisi: There is a need to pursue a peaceful resolution of the issue between Russia and Ukraine. I have called on the international community to find a political and diplomatic resolution to end the fighting. I will also inform Prime Minister Kishida about our intention.

Q: What are your expectations for Japan?

Sisi: I have continued with an effort to introduce Japan’s educational system to Egypt and so far that has been implemented at about 50 schools. We plan to further expand those measures. I want many Japanese companies to participate in the economic zone of the Suez Canal, a key hub of international trade.




Arab Observer

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